E-safety charity, Childnet, have launched Trust Me, a new resource designed to support primary and secondary school teachers in exploring critical thinking online.
Developed in partnership with the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) Safeguarding Board to address the emerging area of online extremism and propaganda, the practical resource aims to provoke discussion among students so as to challenge young people to think critically about what they see online.
Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, said: “Trust Me is designed to give teachers the tools they need to educate young people to be critical thinkers online, vital in building up their resilience online. By working with the London Grid for Learning and piloting in schools across the country we have developed a free, practical resource that can be used by any primary and secondary school teacher across the UK. We want to encourage young people to ask questions about what they see and experience online and Trust Me gives young people the language that will help them to do this.”
Supporting a new generation of digital citizens
In a world where people’s perception of the world is informed through the wealth of information and interaction in the media and social media, it is important that children are equipped with the skills to critically assess and analyse the information that is put to them. This is a key element of developing resilience, and a crucial modern day skill for managing and navigating potential online risks.
There has been a considerable amount of discussion about the role the internet and social media plays in online extremism which has highlighted the need for open discussion and ongoing dialogue that ensures young people have the skills to be critical thinkers online.
John Jackson, LGfL CEO said: “LGfL takes online safety very seriously, and through the work of its Safeguarding Board is constantly striving to source, recommend and develop resources that help schools in this important area. We are delighted to have had the opportunity for another partnership with Childnet. Critical thinking skills are essential in the online arena, and Trust Me is a valuable tool for teachers as they support a new generation of digital citizens.”
The aim of Trust Me is to provide primary and secondary school teachers with a practical resource that will get young people talking and thinking critically about what they see online.
Designed to be used in PSHE and Digital Literacy lessons, the resource is based around the idea of trust and provides young people with online examples for them to discuss and challenge.
The free online resources contain lesson plans relating to online content, contact and propaganda / media and social media literacy. Each lesson plan aims to provoke discussion among students to allow them to reflect on the motives and agendas behind what we see online and who we speak to online. Questions include: ‘how can we know if a website is trustworthy online?’ and ‘why and how might someone gain your trust online?’
Childnet has worked in partnership with schools across the UK to pilot the resource. Juliette Henry, Head of Citizenship at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School said:
“In an age where young people are more and more likely to look for answers to their questions via social media, Trust me provides an invaluable resource that aims to develop critical thinking skills.
Trust me is interactive, engaging, and challenges how we form our ways of thinking through digital media. It really gets to the heart of how the internet works. I would not hesitate to recommend its use in Citizenship/PSHE lessons at KS3 and KS4.”
Launch event in London
Trust Me was launched on 19th May 2016 at a workshop in Islington Town Hall in London. Held in partnership with the LGfL Safeguarding Board, the event was an opportunity for educators to explore the teaching packs and resources. This included being guided through the mocked-up examples of websites and social media posts for young people, along with the practical activities and discussion guides.
An expert panel held a discussion about the importance of critical thinking around online content and the need for schools to actively engage with their pupils on this topic. The panel also included young people who spoke about their own experiences around content they see online and how they and their peers made judgements about what they see on websites and social media.
As one delegate said, the event “was great for reassurance and guidance in a changing online landscape” and another delegate commented that the event gave them “new ways to help young people understand the dangers they face online as well as methods to help teachers teach these lessons.”